Wednesday 26 August 2020

Online Learning Insights

Online learning insights with STEM Teacher/ Buckley House Pedagogical & Curriculum Leader Jason Coleman.

We recently had the opportunity to interview STEM Teacher/ Buckley House Pedagogical & Curriculum Leader Jason Coleman. He gave us some fascinating insights into what the return to online learning in Term 3 looks like and the journey that he and his students have been on since online learning was first conducted in semester one. Mr Coleman is a specialist primary teacher at Buckley House, teaching students from Foundation – Year 6. 

What are your students learning this Term?

Our Science program is exploring physical science concepts, particularly movement. Our students will develop knowledge and understanding of the ways things move, how light and sound work, simple machines, heat transfer and energy transfer. Classes will explore these concepts through investigation and experimentation in their own homes. The use of video, photography, online simulations, virtual and augmented reality, and Minecraft will enhance experiences and provide opportunities for hands-on and immersive experiences. Students will share their knowledge and observation, creating personal investigations and immersive experiences. As always with home based learning, the technology can be challenging for some students, however, with support and modification, I believe we can provide our students with an amazing learning experience from home.

How has technology worked in the online learning environment?

Having the ability to have students focused on the online environment takes away many distractions and enables learning to occur. The use of live lessons and pre-recorded lessons provides teachers with opportunities to also focus on what is important and best for the learners in the classroom. The use of technology to provide engaging learning experience has been challenging and fun. As a teacher, I have explored the different ways to use the technology available to enhance lessons and empower students to explore their world and communicate. The technology assists our less independent students and provides powerful tools to assist them to engage with the lessons with greater depth too. Assistive technology has been crucial for many of our students, including voice dictation, screen speaking, and having text read to them as they read. Providing captions in videos has also been of assistance to many learners. Our learners have been able to continue building and maintaining relationships with their teachers and peers throughout home based learning. The isolation that many of us feel can be reduced through the use of video conferencing tools. They have provided substantial support, enabling our school community to stay connected and informed.

How have your students embraced this second stage of online learning?

I believe my students started this second stage with a different attitude. They worked through the initial novelty of home based learning and began to develop greater organisational skills and learning independence. Students have embraced this style of learning with enthusiasm. I have noticed greater participation in live meetings, a greater ability to ask for assistance and, as students recognise they can complete the learning in this environment, we will see further development in learner effort and standards of work. I see more evidence of independence too, even with our Foundation students. I believe that students and families have accepted that this is our current normal and are organised with greater compassion for the work and effort required to develop learners.

What do you think students will gain from this experience?

Our students will develop a greater sense of their abilities to learn. In a classroom environment, teachers create experiences in and around classrooms to engage and support every learner. We provide scaffolds, vocabulary lists, reference charts and texts, construct posters together to provide support for our students. Students and families are learning to create these for themselves and recognise that learning is an active experience. Students will gain an appreciation for the complexities of life too. We are all inconvenienced and challenged by the situation we are currently living in, and our students are learning how we can solve problems, find a healthy balance between work and play, gain the recognition that screen time needs to be offset with outside experiences, and find new ways to share and communicate with the world. Our students continue to impress with their resilience and courage to take on the challenges of home based learning and I have no doubt they will develop into truly compassionate citizens. I hope also that students will gain an insight into what is important in their world, relishing opportunities to spend time with family, explore their imaginations and begin to create a less material world.

Watch this great video about online learning and see our students and teachers in action